Out of the West

by buttonbright

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Cirdan

Summary: This fic is set roughly two-thousand years before LOTR and forms a prologue to my other fics. It takes place on the day when Cirdan, Master of the Grey Havens, welcomes the last of the Istari to Middle-earth. The new wizard goes by the name Olorin here, but he is the same character who will one day be called Gandalf and Mithrandir, among other names.

Disclaimer: The sexuality here is explicitly M/M. If that disturbs you, please don't read.

"Master Cirdan!"

The breathless apprentice had raced up the stairs from the dock. Hearing a note of urgency in her voice, Cirdan rose from the diagrams spread out over the table.

"What news?"

"Master Cirdan, it has happened again. There's another ship sailing up the firth."

Another ship! This was news indeed. Here at Mithlond, or the Grey Havens as some folk called it, Cirdan and his people built ships that bore the Eldar away from Middle-earth, never to return. Out of the Circles of the World they sailed, grey ships bound for the far-off shores of the Blessed Realm. Seldom did ships enter the long Firth of Lune from outside.

Two, however, had done so recently. The first had arrived just a year and a half ago, bearing two messengers sent by the Valar themselves. Curumo the one in white had been called; the brown, Aiwendil. Later came two more, Alatar and Pallando, in blue. Like the first, they had remained in Mithlond for just a brief while before journeying east. Sauron, it seemed, was expected to return. These messengers had been sent to rouse his foes and unify the resistance.

Did this new ship bring another of the same order?

Cirdan walked onto his balcony. From here he could look out over the small town he had founded so long ago and maintained so faithfully. It was a town devoted entirely to shipbuilding, and everywhere elves plied their ancient craft. They had done so during the First Age, on shores that had long since vanished beneath the waves. Cirdan remembered. He remembered the long, slow journey of the Eldar from Cuivienen, and their dream of sailing into the West. He remembered his first glimpse of the sea, and of ships riding the swells like enchanted seabirds. Had he known then that the building of ships would become, for him, the labor of ages? Had he known that his journey would wait on the journeys of others?

Perhaps. The command of the Valar, when it came, had echoed the urgings of his own heart. One day, when all who could go had already gone, he himself would board the last ship and sail into the West. But that day lay far in the future, many hundreds of years hence. Until then, grey ships would be his gift to others grown weary of the hither shore.

His keen eyes found the ship now speeding up the firth. She was a fair ship, like the others before her, and not so very different from those he made himself. No doubt she had been built by those of his own people, the Teleri, who had gone on to the Isle of Eressea while he stayed behind. Hands he once knew, perhaps, had crafted her long lines. Swift as a gull she came, straight as an elvish arrow, and proud as the mighty mariner Earendil. And what made this so remarkable, as Cirdan now observed, was the fact that no crew could be seen on her deck, in her rigging, nor on her one graceful mast.

A small crowd had gathered on the dock. As curious as any, Cirdan made his way down to the water's edge.

He arrived just minutes before the ship herself. A palpable air of excitement hummed among the watchers.

"Master!" called one of the younger woodwrights. "Have the Valar sent us more messengers?"

Cirdan smiled at the woodwright's eager face. Here was one who had been born after the fall of Numenor and the coming of the Faithful in their ravaged ships. Only a thousand years ago that was, a brief span in the long life of Cirdan. How different the sky had looked then: black and wrathful, a living mask of the Valar's anger. Great swells had rolled up the firth, forcing everyone to high ground. A driving rain had turned the stairs and sloping lanes of Mithlond into cataracts.

"Ready with a rope there!" Cirdan ordered as the ship drew near.

But she needed no rope. As she glided in she barely touched the dock, a touch light as a ripple on the surface of a lake. Then she was still. She seemed deserted.

"Make her fast," Cirdan said. "I will examine her myself."

Rope was measured out and knots deftly tied. This mysterious vessel might bear an enchantment of some kind, and no one wanted the Master spirited off to unknown adventure. When all was secure, he boarded her.

At first he saw nothing. Not only crew but all manner of gear and supplies were nowhere to be seen. His slow steps took him toward the mast. There, at last, he found the ship's sole passenger: a man curled up on the deck, fast asleep. A simple grey robe was his only garment. His hair and beard, too, were grey as slate, and the skin on his hands, feet and face showed signs of advancing years. Most observers would have assumed confidently that the man had passed his prime and begun the journey into old age.

Cirdan, however, was not so sure. The figure had an unstained look, like a hammer or saw that has not yet known the wear and tear of long use. He knelt and smoothed a lock of hair from the untroubled brow.

Lashes fluttered. Two grey eyes fixed him with a wondering gaze.

For a brief instant that might have been an age, Cirdan felt himself floating in a limitless sea of years. The spirit that looked up at him was old, far older than he was himself, old enough to remember the first strain of music rising from the deeps of time, along with the first well-spring of joy that had greeted it like a long laugh.

But joyous memory vanished in a sudden spasm of pain. The grey one scrambled to his feet and ran aft so suddenly that onlookers feared he might fling himself into the water. When Cirdan caught up with him, he had pressed himself hard against the rail and was stretching both arms toward the West. "They have gone!" he moaned. "I cannot see them. I cannot hear them. Gone, all gone!"

"Who?" Cirdan asked him. "Who has gone?"

The grey one looked round at him, his face taut with yearning. "I don't know," he said helplessly. "I don't remember. There was light, such light! There were voices. Whose voices? I was loved . . ." Again he turned toward the West.

"They sent you here?" asked Cirdan.

"They sent me away. Away from the light!"

Cirdan's hands were on his shoulders. "How beautiful that light must have been!"

"Oh, yes! Yes, the light was beautiful. And there was something, or someone, behind the light. Why can't I remember who it was? I want so much to remember! They said my name. I can hear it: Olorin. Olorin, they called me. And they said . . ." Olorin hid his face in his hands. Cirdan waited silently. "They said," he went on at last, "that I must leave them. They said that I must sail beyond the Sundering Sea - but where? Where must I sail?"

"To Middle-earth?" Cirdan prompted him gently.

At last Olorin turned to face him. And for the first time his eyes looked past Cirdan, past the ship that had brought him here, and saw the houses and workshops of Mithlond. And it seemed to Cirdan that Mithlond was beautiful in his eyes.

"Middle-earth," he said. "Yes. Is that the name of this place?"

"Our town is only a small part of Middle-earth," replied Cirdan. "Middle-earth is vast and very beautiful. There is much to see."

"Much to see," repeated Olorin, gazing about him in growing wonder. "I will see it. They told me I would. They told me . . ." He paused. His face grew stern. "They told me that the enemy is in Middle-earth, and that I must lead the fight against him. Is the enemy here? Will we fight him now?"

Before Cirdan could answer, Olorin strode back to the spot where he'd been sleeping and took up a staff made from some dark, gnarled wood. His disorientation and uncertainty dropped away like a cloak. He seemed to grow taller, straighter, keener, a vessel of hidden strength. He was perilous!

"No, my friend," Cirdan reassured him. He had followed close behind and observed this extraordinary change. Clearly a new power had come to these shores, and one that might someday turn the tide against the Dark Lord. "No, the enemy is not here. He has concealed himself far away, in a place where you and I cannot find him. Here there are only friends who will gladly help you in any way they can. I will help you myself."

"Thank you." With battle postponed, apparently, Olorin shrank back to his former stature. He seemed at a loss. His gaze wandered to his own hand, curled tightly round the staff. His expression, so implacable a moment ago, turned suddenly curious.

"Whose hand is this?" he asked. "Is it mine?"

He touched it with his other hand, watching both with rapt fascination. Then he pulled up the sleeve of his robe and ran a fingertip along his arm. He pinched the arm, and scowled. He brought both hands to his cheeks and felt the shape of his scowling face. This made him laugh, so that a different shape was created. He felt the crackling length of his beard, and pulled it up where he could squint down at it. He held it to his nose and sniffed at it. "What a strange thing," he commented. "I don't see anything like this on your face." He touched Cirdan's beardless cheek, running his fingers unashamedly over the smooth skin with its almost invisible hairline wrinkles. Then he touched cirdan's long white hair, so much finer than his own. He seemed to making up his mind about something. "They've given me a body like yours," he decided. "But not exactly like. How beautiful you are! Am I as beautiful as you?"

"More beautiful, surely," said Cirdan, smiling at him. He meant it. The stranger's eyes possessed, in addition to their timeless depth, an unmistakable glint of humor. As for his mouth (all of it that could be seen through burgeoning whiskers), it seemed made for laughter. Cirdan loved nothing so much as laughter. "Would you like to see for yourself how beautiful you are?" he asked. "Come home with me and I will show you a mirror."

"Oh!" cried Olorin. "I would like that!" No sooner had a grin turned up the corners of his mouth, however, than a frown pulled them back down.

"But what of my task?" he asked rather wistfully. "It will take me a very long time to achieve it. Should I not begin now?"

"There is more time than you think," Cirdan told him kindly. "For now, at any rate. Later, perhaps, time will grow shorter and the world more dangerous. It is for this that we must all prepare. Meanwhile, I think you might reasonably begin by learning about yourself, and perhaps about us as well. Come with me!"

Olorin nodded. "I will come!" he said. And he slipped his hand into Cirdan's.

They walked down the length of the ship and stepped off onto the dock. For the first time Olorin noticed how many interested folk stood waiting there, and he stared candidly at them.

"Who are you?" he asked one. "What is your name?" he inquired of another. "What do you do in this place?" The elves liked his eager curiosity, and they answered an endless flow of questions as best they could. Cirdan suggested that they show the stranger where they worked. Olorin beamed.

"I'm beginning my task after all," he said.

He watched the woodcarvers at their shaping. When they put a knife into his hand and urged him to try it, he proved as quick and industrious as any elf new to the craft. The same thing happened at the sailmakers', and again at the forge. His keen eye and ready hands won respect and affection wherever he went. He himself thought nothing of his own aptitude, but praised and admired the skill of the masters.

Though they did not show it, the elves were, for their part, at least as curious about him as he was about them. He had come from the Blessed Realm, the fabled paradise that the Valar had created for the Eldar. All that Cirdan's folk knew of it came from elves who had left it many thousands of years ago. Of those who had sailed there more recently, in the grey ships of Mithlond, none ever returned to tell what they had seen. Now here was one who, though not an elf, had left the Blessed Realm just days ago. Nothing could have been more certain to fire the imaginations and the longings of Cirdan's folk.

So it was not surprising, perhaps, that someone (it was the young woodwright) finally asked Olorin what he knew of the Blessed Realm.

First Olorin lost his temper. No one, he shouted, could have asked him a stupider question. Then he began to weep, and he rushed out of the workshop, down the lane and straight to the water's edge. By this time the sun was setting beyond the firth, and Olorin called out to it in a voice torn with sorrow. It was the light he called for, the light he had left behind. Only Cirdan managed to quiet him at last, and to lead him, step by stumbling step, up the hill.

"Let us give him an hour of peace," he said to his people. "Help me take him to my house."

They obeyed and then discreetly retired. Inside, a soft bed waited. Olorin consented to lie down, and for a time Cirdan rocked him in his arms. The room grew dark. The sky beyond the balcony faded from deep blue to starlit black. Cirdan rose and lit a fire in the fireplace.

The flame attracted Olorin's attention. "I can do that too," he said. From a pocket of his robe he drew a crystal, which he placed on top of his staff. He waved a hand over it, breathed on it, and smiled when it shed a silvery-white light. Brighter and brighter it grew, till the room shone like day. Cirdan's shadow stood out sharp against the wall. "I love the light," Olorin said. "I want to make light. I will learn the way of it, and then I will make all manner of light."

Cirdan smiled at him. "You are a wonder, Olorin. You have forgotten so much, and yet you know things that seem strange and marvelous to me. I cannot make such light as you have done with your crystal."

Olorin shrugged, as if his own powers were a matter of little or no interest. "I am a messenger," he said. "I was given gifts." He thought for a moment. "You were going to show me a mirror," he remembered.

Cirdan brought a small hand mirror and sat beside him on the bed. Olorin took the thing gingerly. At first he couldn't find himself in it, but saw only the walls and ceiling of the little room. The firelight in particular seemed to fascinate him. His eyes flicked back and forth between objects and their reflected images. "The mirror does not show things as they are," he remarked. When his face did swing into view, he regarded it with great solemnity. Then he angled the mirror to show Cirdan's face. Again the grey eyes flicked back and forth from image to reality. "No," he said at last, laying the mirror on a bedside chest. "No, the mirror does not tell the truth. It is a toy full of empty pictures. But you - you are so much more beautiful than pictures."

Cirdan closed his eyes while Olorin's fingers explored his face. There was something electric in the touch of these newly-made hands. Small tremors traveled down Cirdan's spine and into his crotch, where he felt himself beginning to harden. Indeed, he realized suddenly that he wanted very much to make love to this wonderful and mysterious being. The idea seemed ridiculous - but why? Say that Olorin was young in the body he now wore - what harm could it do to initiate him into the possibilities of physical pleasure? And what a delight it would be to teach him how a body may be played, like a musical instrument, and what wonderful music it may bring forth! When curious hands slipped down to Cirdan's neck, and even more when they followed the strong slope of shoulders beneath his tunic, he shivered slightly and opened his eyes.

Olorin was gazing intently at him.

"I want to see you," he said wonderingly. "I want to touch you. All of you."

"Let me help," offered Cirdan. He showed Olorin how to undo the simple hooks that fastened his tunic. Olorin plucked at them, one after another, and laughed at his own clumsiness. Perseverance soon won the day, and his eyes gleamed as he revealed the smooth white chest beneath the cloth. Eagerly he caressed the gentle curves of bone and muscle, the quickening texture of round, pale nipples.

"I want to taste . . ." he said. And without waiting for permission, he leaned down and dabbed the right nipple with his tongue. "Ahhhh!" His voice was a purr against the naked chest, a vibrating touch that, for an instant, stopped the breath in Cirdan's throat. Then the other nipple was tasted, the base of the throat, the swell of arms where retreating cloth presented more bare flesh. For Cirdan was sliding the tunic down and away, dropping it to the floor. His white torso shone like marble in the lamplight.

Olorin paused in his explorations. He looked down at his own robed body and touched it tentatively.

"Your body sings when I touch it," he said. "Will my body sing?"

Cirdan smiled. Already this ancient spirit, clothed in new flesh, heard the music that some never heard in their lives. "I hear your body singing now," he said. "Give your body to me and we will make sweet music together."

Olorin's robe fastened at the back. This did not trouble Cirdan, who had made short work of far less tractable garments in his long life. Soon his fingers felt bare flesh beneath them, and they drew the robe forward over shoulders that met open air for the first time. As the robe fell about his feet, Olorin shivered - not with cold, but at the first astonishing glimpse of his own body. It was different from Cirdan's - just as pale, but not so flawlessly smooth. Over hard muscle there lay softer flesh patterned with small wrinkles. The chest drooped slightly, as if it were weary and wanted to rest. A triangle of short hair grew over the breastbone. Hair trailed down the dimpled belly, too, spreading out into a wide pubic thatch.

Olorin seemed unsure what to make of it all. He poked at his own skin - the softness of breast, belly and side. Then he touched Cirdan's taut abdomen.

"Am I not beautiful?" he inquired plaintively.

"Ah, my friend." Cirdan shook his head. "Let my hands and lips tell you how beautiful you are." For Cirdan loved the body he took now in his hands, loved the softness of it, how it gave when he pressed it, how it moved when he stroked it. He knelt and buried his face in a welcoming warmth of belly that pillowed his hard cheekbones. He kissed it, took its small folds between his lips and tickled them with his tongue. A delighted laugh overhead told him this was appreciated. All that living feast, from navel to neck, from right side to left side, he tasted. The very human-ness of it entranced him - its little hollows and creases, its moles large and small, its alternations from hairy to hairless. No elf had ever presented him with a body like this, and he would not have exchanged the miracle of it for any of them.

He had made love to many in his time, elves and men, young and old, from wise Elwe Thingol to valiant Gil-galad and faithful Elendil. These lovers were with him still, living memories that warmed his elvish dreams by day and by night, at work and at rest. But here, now, was a body like no other, and it housed a spirit beyond his elvish wisdom. Olorin would leave him soon - tomorrow, or the next day, or next week - but tonight he was with Cirdan, and Cirdan would make him his own.

A light touch distracted the elf. Olorin was looking down at him, his eyes sparkling.

"I am beautiful!" he whispered. "When you touch me, I am beautiful."

Cirdan rose, took the bearded face between his hands and kissed it. For a moment Olorin stood lost in astonishment. His mouth yielded to the kiss, opening to the fullness of it yet giving nothing back. Then Cirdan felt a stir, a wakening, as strong hands gripped his back. An eager tongue met his and a warm chest pressed itself against him. Half-seen visions flickered in Cirdan's mind: an endless sea beyond the sight or smell of land? A coast bathed in the light of the rising sun? An island floating at the feet of a towering continent? What was he seeing?

Cirdan, who had given himself heart and soul to the kisses of so many great ones, had never a known a kiss like Olorin's. It took him out of himself and filled him with forgotten wonder. He felt young, younger than the woodwright in his workshop down the hill, younger than men whose lives came and went like guttering flames. How strange, that in the awakening arms of Olorin he was a child!

And Olorin's ancient spirit had turned childlike too, in its new body. While his mouth poured its secrets into a still unbroken kiss, his hands fumbled at the elf's leggings. Panting, Cirdan pulled free - the visions vanished - and slid the leggings down to his feet. Then he stepped out of them. Naked now, he gathered both their hard cocks into his hands and pressed them together.

Olorin watched in amazement. Whatever divine images whirled in his head, the image of twin cocks grasped in strong fingers was a new marvel to his eyes.

Cirdan began to move the cocks against each other, and to move his hands around them, stroking and squeezing. Balls, too, he fondled, his fingers never still, shifting always from one sweet spot to another. He leaned his forehead against Olorin's, their noses side by side, their ragged breaths mingling in the warm air while their cocks moved below.

But it was not enough for Olorin merely to watch all this.

"I said I would taste you," he murmured. "Let me. . ."

"Lie down," Cirdan told him. "We will taste each other."

And so they did, stretched out end to end on the bed. Cirdan showed him how to tease with his tongue and teeth, how to wrap his lips around the head of a cock, how to work shaft and balls while sliding his mouth up and down the swollen head. As in other crafts he had observed that day, Olorin learned quickly and eagerly. Soon he could be left to his own devices while Cirdan tended his.

Still, it was the elf who spun out their pleasure, now hurrying forward, now slackening their speed, on and on till time itself bowed to his power and knowledge. The ebb and flow of the tides, the waxing and waning of the moon, the slow march of the seasons, all were as one with the rising and falling, the heating and cooling, the gathering and releasing, of his passion and Olorin's. It was the elf, too, old in the ways of flesh, who knew when his climax drew near at last; and he skillfully brought Olorin to the same dizzying brink. There, on that utmost verge, he held them both for as long as he could, poised unbearably at the edge of madness. Olorin's voice was humming a prayer of anguish and adoration, his muscles tensing and trembling, his hips thrusting. The world seemed ready to burst beneath them when, at last, Cirdan took flight and carried them both into shuddering bliss.

And the shipwright seemed to see, in that moment, a vast ocean streaming away beneath him. There again, clear now and as vivid as the waking world, was the island of his former flickering vision. There, too, was the towering continent, and there a city fairer than any in Middle-Earth. Down into its courts he plunged, and saw - it broke his heart with joy - two trees, alive and alight in the morning of their glory. All this, he realized, Olorin had witnessed when the world was young; all this Olorin had forgotten in his journey across the Sundering Sea; and all this he shared now with Cirdan in the moment of his own remembering.

Yet how brief that moment was! No sooner had the fleeting spasms of climax died away than the visions began to fade from Cirdan's mind. Vainly he grasped at them as they vanished. All that remained was a lingering recollection of light, far-off and radiant. Nothing more.

Later, when they lay still and peaceful in one another's arms, Cirdan asked Olorin if he, too, had seen such visions and then forgotten them again.

"Yes," Olorin said sadly. "My body was singing, oh, such a sweet song! And I remembered everything!. Now it's gone again. But this time the forgetting doesn't hurt me as much as it did before."

"Why is that?" Cirdan wondered.

"Because I know how to call my memories back now, even if it's just for a moment. You showed me the way. And that, my dear friend, I will not forget."

For seven days Olorin stayed with Cirdan. By day he learned what he could of Mithlond's arts. By night he learned the arts of love, twined in Cirdan's strong white arms; and always at the moment of ecstasy he would remember what he had left behind in the West. Afterward, while the night breeze whispered through the open windows, Cirdan told him tales of Middle-earth, of the enemy he had come to fight, and of friends who would fight beside him.

On the seventh night, when Olorin said sadly that he must leave next morning, Cirdan gave him a long, searching look. Then he got up and opened a chest that stood in the corner. When he came back to bed, he pressed a small object into Olorin's hand.

It was a ring set with a red stone.

Olorin examined it carefully. "The red stone glows like fire," he said at last. "It is like the heart of a great love." He looked at Cirdan. "This is one of the great rings, isn't it?"

Cirdan nodded. He had told Olorin of the great rings and their making. "This is one of the Three," he said. "Narya, the Ring of Fire. My lover Gil-galad gave it to me before he met his death, and since then it has made Mithlond a haven of power and peace. But there is a greater task ahead for it. In some sense, I have been waiting for one who would take it into battle against the Dark Lord. And now you have come, last of the wise ones out of the West.

"There is a fire in your heart, Olorin, to match the fire of this ring. I know, for I have felt its heat. With it you will set a new fire in the hearts of all you encounter, a fire that will bind men together in body and mind. It will bind them with love, Olorin! That fire, that love, will one day consume the Enemy and turn his darkness into light."

"Fire and light." Olorin smiled. "We may not see each other for many years," he said.

"No," said Cirdan. "Not until your mission has been achieved. Then you will come back to Mithlond as the Eldar do, in search of a ship. And I, Cirdan Shipwright, will send you into the West."

Olorin kissed him. "That time is so far away that I cannot yet see it," he said. "But tonight, my friend, I will find the West in your arms."